I was starting to think the Pacific was a myth. I got a real understanding of the wild surmise.
First, that wasn’t the Pacific, that was only Puget Sound. (But Puget Sound was wonderful.) Then it was only San Francisco Bay. Then we should have seen it from the Coast Starlight, but it was running very late and it was too dark to see anything by the time we got to the coast.
Our first day in Los Angeles we got onto a metro with the word “beach” in the name of its destination and then we walked and we walked and we walked and we couldn’t even catch a glimmer of ocean in the distance before we had to head back or be late for the reading. LA is too big and too spread out. It just doesn’t feel like a place. Phenomenal number of palm trees though. (The reading was OK — only 8 people, smallest one yet, but a very high quality of people.)
After asking advice from Sherwood Smith, the next day we got a bus to Santa Monica, where there is ocean and a “park”, i.e. a beach that’s accessible to the public. Even there we had to walk and walk and cross a scary highway bridge, but two hours each way on buses got us an hour at the ocean and back just in time to take the train to Albuquerque.
It was worth it, because I wanted to see the Pacific, and we have some pictures to prove it, which I will link to as soon as Z does the Flickr thing. It was also worth it because I love the sea, and because it was the sea and that was worth finding out. (Though as Z said as we headed disconsolately back on the metro the first day “Because long train trips was the one thing we didn’t already have enough of…”)
Ways Santa Monica is just like beaches I’ve been to in Britain:
1) a pier and tacky tourist stuff.
2) The sea itself, coming in and out in waves.
3) Wet sand by the sea, dry sand up above.
4) The sea is generally to the west.*
Ways in which it is different:
1) The sun is shining and it is +21. (I would add “in January”, but this is unusual in Britain in any month.)
2) The sea doesn’t warm up even after you’ve been in it for a while.
3) The vast majority of the shells in the sand are alive!
4) Palm trees.
* I have seen the Other Side of the Sea, the Atlantic coast of the US, but I have never been to a beach there. Nor have I been to beaches on the east coast of the UK.